High voltage eletricity transmission lines, Portugal


High-voltage power lines, also called transmission lines, are those whose nominal voltage is greater than or equal to 60 kV. These lines connect electric generation plants (thermal, hydro and wind power plants) to substations or between several substations. They are usually aerial, but can be run underground. In Portugal, the construction of a number of these structures was planned in various parts of the country by the National Power Network (REN) and led to protests of local people and the creation of a National Civic Movement Against High-Voltage Power Lines. Communities are concerned because a number of studies suggest the increase of leukemia cases in children, higher risk of brain tumors and the frequency of stress cases and depression due to low frequency noise from high-power lines.

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Basic Data
Name High voltage eletricity transmission lines, Portugal
SiteSintra, Silves, Foz Tua, Albufeira, Portimão
Accuracy of LocationLOW country/state level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe high-voltage line Fanhões-Trajouce has over 40 km and runs at 220 kV. The high-power towers would have between 31 m (the lowest) and 75 m (the highest), most of the towers measuring about 50 m, as stated in the Environmental Impact Study.

The high-voltage line Tunes-Estoi has over 40 km and runs at 150 Kv.

In the project, the high-power line Foz Tua-Amamar has over 40 km and runs at 400 kV.
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population500,000
Start Date01/01/2005
Company Names or State EnterprisesRedes Energéticas Nacionais (REN) from Portugal
EDP - Energias de Portugal (EDP) from Portugal
Relevant government actorsMinistérios do Ambiente e da Economia, Ordenamento do Território e Poder Local, Tribunal Fiscal e Administrativo de Sintra, Supremo Tribunal, Tribunal Central e Administrativo do Sul, Câmara Municipal de Sintra, Assembleia da República, Ministério as Saúde, Assembleias Municipais
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAssociação ambientalista Olho Vivo, Comissão de Moradores de Sintra, Movimento Nacional Contra as Linhas de Alta Tensão Nas Zonas Urbanas, Movimento Cívico pelo enterramento da linha de alta tensão, Associação de Moradores da população de Vale Fuzeiros

Plataforma Salvar o Tua, Quercus, Liga para a Proteção da Natureza-LPN, Grupo de Estudos em Ordenamento do Território e Ambiente-GEOTA, Fundo para a Proteção dos Animais Selvagens-FAPAS, Associação dos Amigos do vale do Rio Tua
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
OtherA number of studies suggest the increase of leukemia cases in children, higher risk of brain tumors and the frequency of stress cases and depression due to low frequency noise from high-power lines.
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
OtherTourist and agricultural activities are affect. There is a property depreciation in lands that are crossed by these lines; situation recognized by case law of Porto Appeal Court, dated actions in 1995 and 2001.
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseInstitutional changes
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesIn some cases, alternative solutions consisted in the use of a line already in place for the electricity transmission or deviation in the planned line route in order to sidetrack the affected area. There was also the question in relation to alternatives to the construction of dams, the structure associated to the need for high-power line installation in the case of Foz Tua. These alternatives would be the repowering of the old dams and investment in energy savings
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The fight against high-voltage lines fulfilled the role to educate the general population about the risks of these infrastructures. In many cases, local movements with the support of national movement support, managed to cancel the installation projects, redirect their path to locals less dangerous to populations or perform the burial of these structures.
Sources and Materials

Portaria n.º 1421/2004 de 23 de Novembro
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Estudo sobre o Impacto das Linhas Eléctricas de Média e Alta Tensão na Avifauna em Portugal
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WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION-WHO. Electromagnetic fields and public health. Exposure to extremely low frequency fields. Jun. 2007.
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OLSEN, Jorgen, H.; Nielsen, Annelise; Schulgen, Gabi. Residence near high voltage facilities and risk of cancer in children. Papers, v. 307, p. 891-895, 9 Out. 1993.
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CORREIO DA MANHÃ. Sintra: cem contra muito alta tensão. Notícias, 4 Mar. 2007.
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AGÊNCIA LUSA. Alta tensão: assembleia municipal de Portimão exige ao governo alteração do traçado naquele concelho algarvio. Sapo Notícias, 10 Jan. 2008.
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REVÉZ, Idálio. Algarve discute traçado de linha de alta tensão. Jornal Público, 17 de Fevereiro de 2002.
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AGÊNCIA LUSA. Estudo de Impacto Ambiental apresenta 8 soluções para linha de alta tensão no Douro. Jornal i, 6 de Abril de 2014
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GALRÃO, LUÍS. Greve de fome contra alta tensão no Parlamento. Diário de Notícias, 23 de Outubro 2007.
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CARMO, Helena. Alta tensão em zonas habitadas. ESQUERDA NET. 26 de Novembro de 2007.
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BERENGUER, Márcio. Estudos científicos alertam para os perigos de viver ao lado de linhas de alta tensão. Diário de Notícias da Madeira, 3 de Abril de 2007.
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PÚBLICO. Ambientalistas levam linhas de alta tensão a Bruxelas. Jornal Público, 19 de Agosto de 2006.
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Media Links

Reportagem do programa Nós por Cá da SIC sobre cabos de muito alta tensão.
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Other Documents

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Other CommentsSince there were protests in many places, the GPS refers to the geographic center of Portugal. GPS of each conflict: Sintra: 38.812198, -9.382556 Vale Fuzeiros: 37.250686, -8.352163 Foz do Tua: 41.208884, -7.420833 Albufeira: 37.092785, -8.247788 Portimão: 37.144183, -8.539399.
Meta Information
ContributorInês Ribeiro, Lúcia Fernandes and Stefania Barca
Last update25/02/2015